You may smoke! You may smoke! You may smoke!
But on condition, says the National Council On Drug Abuse (NCDA) of Jamaica, that the proposed policy of decriminalizing ganja ensures that young people between the ages of 15 and 25 are fully protected. This is the best position the NCDA could come with as “a responsible agency”.
“We do recognize that marijuana can have detrimental effects on young people,” NCDA chairman Professor Wendel Abel told the weekly Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange yesterday. “Certainly, studies have indicated that young people, especially adolescents between the ages of 15 and 25, are very vulnerable to the effects of marijuana.
“And we do know that young persons, especially those with significant family history of mental illness, may be vulnerable to the development of mental disorder.”
Yet, the NCDA and Professor Abel, who is himself a psychiatrist, would give decriminalization of marijuana their blessing, with the cute and curt advice: “Therefore, with the process of decriminalization, we strongly advocate that our young people are protected. So what we want is a regulated industry, and it should be regulated from many points of view.”
This conditionality cannot be good enough.
Amusingly and bemusedly, one Josh Stanley, founder of Strains Of Hope, ironically a non-profit organization out of Colorado, United States, established to help people across access cannabis, admits to the negative effects of marijuana use, but would capitulate to decriminalization seemingly if we could protect these 15- to 25-year-olds, as he too postulated on yesterday’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.
“It is not all rainbows,” Stanley declared; but what the heck! we add sarcastically.
The call for the decriminalizing of marijuana use in the Caribbean is nothing short of a mantra these days. It has been recommended formally to the government of Jamaica since the turn of the 21st century, and Jamaican administrations have been under pressure since then to legalize the drug for reasons ranging from rightful private personal use, to religious sacramental ceremony, to medical treatment.
Some Rastafarians extol its holiness; drug lords, its business viability; and some of our doctors and lawyers have leant towards its medicinal value and benefit.
It does not cease to amaze how reputed highly educated and reasoned minds can keep making a strong case for marijuana decriminalization, despite the fact that the herb –– for all its recreational destressing and medicinal magic – yet impairs logical thinking and benumbs the mind, making its users lethargic and unproductive –– which afflicting tragedy our most recent advocates would now restrict to those of us between 15 and 25.
How indeed would the authorities protect this age group, if marijuana use was legalized in Jamaica, as suggested by Professor Abel? Who would watch over them? And who would tell? And what if they were caught?
Don’t we have enough challenges with alcohol as it is as a recreational drug –– with friends, with family, with the workplace, with the state? Shall we fall for the recommendation of Professor Abel, and have Pastor Victor Roach of the National Council For
The Prevention Of Alcoholism And Drug Dependency raising Cain? Or may we expect a proviso too from the NCPADD?
Or shall we simply apply the commons sense God Almighty gave us?